The ‘Mean Comments Meme’, via Strawberry Singh

One of my go-to SL websites is Strawberry Singh’s excellent blog. Strawberry, like other writers such as Canary Beck, take a philosophical view to SL, and blog in a thoughtful, intelligent manner.

Strawberry also runs ‘Memes’, wherein SL bloggers get the chance to comment on, or re-create, something for their own blog sites.

This week Strawberry’s meme has been a ‘Mean Comments Meme‘, which in another of those extraordinary acts of synchronicity, has been partly what we’ve touched on in recent days with several posts about the #freethenipple campaign ongoing in Iceland, a Twitter meme itself instigated by ‘mean comments -or cyberbullying.

I’ve commented on Strawberry’s blog, and you can read those comments, if you wish, by following the link (above).

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My comment on Strawberry’s blog references us replicating RL events in SL, hence us re-posting Pookes, as Miley, on a ‘Wrecking Ball’

Let’s go straight to the questions Strawberry posed her readers in respect of this meme, and my responses within the context of SL Naturist.

Have you ever been subjected to mean comments online by strangers? I’ve never received ‘mean’ comments in the context of SL Naturist. What I would say is that some male avatars lose all sense of social graces (assuming they had any to begin with) in terms of routine sexism. OK…I’m a SL (and RL) naturist, so I do spend a lot of my SL time naked. It’s odd, however, to still find comments that reference ‘nice tits, love’ or ‘beautiful bush’. Even for female avatars who aren’t naturist within the game, I imagine that sexism is routine. I don’t cyber. I’ve never cybered. My profile makes this abundantly clear. Despite this, I still get asked. When I point people to what my profile says (essentially it says I don’t cyber, in a number of languages) I have previously been called a ‘slut’ and a ‘whore….for not cybering? Fellas, you need to be spending less time on SL, and more time with your dictionary if you think someone who doesn’t bump pixels is a ‘slut’.

How did you respond to them? We’ve all got a mute button. I use it. I’ve had SL friends whom I’ve thought understood my no-cyber stance, only to let themselves down 2-3 years into an SL friendship. I mute them immediately. Friendship over. With regards being called a ‘slut’ or any other form of routine sexism, I ignore it and go into ‘withering sarcasm’ mode. There’s a good number of avatars out there whose comprehension of English (even if they’re native English speakers) isn’t so great that they can come back from a put down (and muting).

How did they make you feel? Their comments say nothing about me, and everything about them. They can all be ignored. Happily, sim owners in the main have zero tolerance to any form of racist, homophobic or sexist remarks. I would imagine they would move swiftly to ban the person making such comments, whether directed at your avatar or made about specific RL groups.

Can you share some of the mean comments you’ve received and your thoughts on them? Apparently I have ‘nice tits and am a ‘slut’ (see Q1) 🙂 This wordpress blog is my online presence. I don’t do FB, twitter, Tumblr, Flickr or anything else, so my exposure to negativity or bullying is minimal. In the context of the blog, no one has ever been particularly negative, just occasionally sexist. Even there, I have ended up at sims, dancing naked, when a total stranger will IM ‘I love your blog’ and want to talk about that. Anonymity allows people to forget their manners in a RL social media context. I have no real need for these outlets, so don’t use them. Oddly enough, Strawberry references a negative comment (in world) regarding the wearing of a tattoo, and we had our first ‘troll’ comment on the exact same scenario recently, referencing RL women as ‘tramps’ for having them.

Have you ever ridiculed or negatively commented on someone else’s work, actions or personality with the intention to hurt them? In the context of SL Naturist, no. We try to promote family orientated, wholesome, ‘genuine’ naturism, rather than a ‘nude beach with sex poses’. Some people like ‘nude beaches with sex poses’. We don’t, but that’s just us. Rather than comment negatively, we don’t comment. Someone has worked hard to create a sim. It doesn’t fit our definition of wholesome, ‘genuine’ naturism, but that’s OK. It wasn’t built for us. Rather than snipe, we simply don’t comment (although we will comment about ridiculously sized male genitalia or breasts within a sim intended for ‘human avatars’: get real people).

We play SL for fun, for enjoyment. Quite why someone needs to be rude or nasty baffles me. It’s just a game, and should be treated like a game. We’ve always tried to adopt a fun, positive approach to the work we promote and have, happily, found that others react in kind. What’s the old Indian saying? ‘The smile that you send out returns to you’.

 

Ella

 

Bjort Olafsdottir

Last week we reported on the Freethenipple campaign in Iceland. You can read our post here.

I note that one of the women taking part, Icelandic MP Bjort Olafsdottir, has written an opinion piece for The Independent newspaper, which you can read here.

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Normally we don’t publish photos in these circumstances, but as Ms Olafsdottir speaks candidly about the photograph in the article, it seems reasonable to include the photo in question.

Second Life has its ‘memes’ from time to time, one being ‘Topless Tuesday’, which began as a Tumblr & Twitter meme before cascading into SL. We’ve done a few ‘Topless Tuesday’ posts ourselves within the realm of SLN, in support of equal rights for women, including top-free rights.

No, it’s not the most important issue facing people in the world today. It’s not the most important feminist issue in the world today. But it still manages to raise the issue of women’ rights on a regular basis.

Even within SL we’re not immune to top free inequality. I’m not about to ‘out’ any skin stores, or go over ground I’ve covered before but, honestly, nipple pasties on skins do not present me with the full picture of what I might be buying. It’s dishonest, to an extent, and brings a patriarchal mindset into SL, a place where we have the chance to re-invent RL inequalities and ridicule them for the insanity they are (at least for those who play the game).

Many designers within SL are female. Most bloggers, I would argue, are female. So, ladies, isn’t it time you stepped up to the mark and presented your skins, or you outfits, or your blog posts honestly? Isn’t it time you freed yourself from RL patriarchal inequalities within the game?

 

Ella

 

 

‘Try it, you might really like it’

USA Today’s website carries a story on naturist holidays, specifically aimed at naturist newbies.

“The best advice I can give is to try it,” says Nicky Hoffman to the Naturist Society. “You really might like it.”

Which certainly is decent enough advice that I, as a naturist of 20 years standing, can attest to.

The RL Mr. Keng wasn’t a naturist when I met him, and had the usual list of reasons why he shouldn’t do it. But then I have the usual list of reasons why I shouldn’t do things if we go to a fairground. 🙂

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The roller coaster? Not if my life depended on it. Not if his life depended on it.

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Well, yes, there’s fear involved. A lot of fear. Equally, I simply don’t like vomiting over myself :). Nope, not for me.

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Other things, though, which I didn’t like the idea of doing….the ferris wheel for example…I’ve managed to get over my fear of doing. Swinging gently in a creaking tub 100 foot or more able the ground isn’t my idea of pleasure, but I can do it now to the point where I’m relaxed enough to take in the view, rather than grip the barrier until my knuckles turn white and have my eyes closed the entire time.

And there, I think, is how we need to see non-naturists and how they might respond to the options available to them if offered the chance to participate.

Some people will relax into it. For others, it will be a big no-no, not even if their lives depended on it.

Which is all fine. In my experience, if you’ve not tried naturism before, you’ll fall into two categories. The first is the ‘No. Never. Discussion closed. It’s immoral. Not even in the shower’ category. The second is the ‘Well…let’s discuss the arrangements. Here are my objections’ category. What they need is reassurance. ‘Well, we could go somewhere isolated just to see if you like the experience of swimming naked, feeling the breeze on your skin’, followed by the ‘my penis/breasts/bum/tum is too small/big/saggy’ argument, maybe then followed (in males) by the ‘What if I get an erection?’ argument. I know: I had all three debates with Mr. Keng. After ten years I now have to race him down the beach to be first to hit the surf.

So if you’re falling into the second category of newbie, take heart. Your half-hearted objections can be discussed logically, natural fears overcome (it’s out of all of our comfort zones the first time, me included).

Try it! You might even like it!

 

Ella

 

Nudity and the (Ancient) Greek ‘nude ideal’

I’ve picked this story up from the BBC today, in which the British Museum is holding an exhibition about ‘Defining Beauty‘, wherein the Ancient Greeks apparently stylised a sense of ‘beauty’ which still holds true today. For example, we all take exercise so we can look good by going to the gym.

Gym, from ‘gymnasium‘, is a Greek word, which originally meant ‘naked school’, or ‘naked exercise’ (within an academic surrounding).

As Dr. Ian Jenkins, from the British Museum, says in the BBC piece, “for the Greeks the body had almost entirely positive connotations: there was no shame“, going on to add that “For a man in Ancient Greece to be naked at, say, the wrestling academy was to join the ranks of the righteous. Representations of the naked male were common and I doubt they ever shocked anyone.”

What a wonderful approach to have compared within our current trend for social-media driven ‘body shaming’.

Ancient Greek athletes practice their skills.

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It’s not nudity all the way, though. In Ancient Greek art the female is rarely depicted nude.

“The fact is that in Ancient Greece social convention meant a respectable woman would never be seen unclothed.

“So a representation of Aphrodite (goddess of love) might show her bathing as that’s a situation in which a woman can legitimately have no clothes on. But even that came relatively late in the Ancient Greek period. 

“Sculptors often resorted to drapes or sometimes to a modestly placed arm. Of course, you may argue that a finely executed tissue of drapery could make the image more erotic rather than less.”CapitolineVenusMa335

Dr Jenkins also adds that “Ancient Greece was honest and perfectly open about homosexuality and accepted it in young men.”

Once again, an enlightened approach in stark contrast to our sometimes horribly homophobic world.

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I found two depictions of Ancient Greece within Second Life, (this LM leads to the second one) as well as landmarks and sims for Ancient Rome,  Ancient Egypt,(warning: this Egypt sim bills itself as a BDSM sim. Reflexively, this isn’t an SLN thing, but it’s a good-looking sim for photography purposes at least. I have absolutely no idea if domination/subjugation was an Egyptian thing, I’m going to guess not, as the likes of Cleopatra rose to lead that Empire) the Ottoman Empire and Sparta, as well as a shop dedicated to ancient historical clothing here. 

There are numerous other historical sites available. Role-play is not something that I’ve ever done so I couldn’t say how these sims work, exactly, but I would assume that, to some extent, nudity is an acceptable part of the deal, at least in some of the sims.

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No nudity in Ancient Egypt (sim)

I didn’t notice much in the way of freebie clothes on my whistle-stop tour, but I wasn’t really there for an exercise in how to look the part in role-play sims. What I can say is that I wasn’t able to find any diaphanous, figure-hugging clothing (drapes) that might replicate a woman in Greek Art.

Pookes

The Eco-naturist, a ‘greener’ tribe.

While researching posts on Second Life as a predictor of social change, and Shaking the roots of the morality police, I came across a piece from the Independent newspaper, from August 2008, wherein naturism was being promoted as a ‘greener’ holiday choice.

Part of the argument ran that, requiring less clothing, naturists packed less luggage, an aircraft’s payload was lighter, this requiring less fuel and producing less carbon dioxide.

I’d never thought of it like that before!

The article  is a bit tongue in cheek, but it subsequently led me to the Econudes.org website.

Their mission statement says that Eco Nudes represents the Nudist and Naturist who is positively committed to sane ecological principles to help ensure that Mankind may survive the coming ecological upheavals facing the world. Eco Nudes strive towards a Vegetarian/Vegan Nudist/Naturist Lifestyle, believing that such a lifestyle offers the best chance for survival, real peace and harmony.eko camp

While not apparently overly active, the site is still active, and I’d recommend it as a jumping-on point for naturists who do care for the environment, a long established cornerstone of the movement.

So just how much of ‘a thing’ is eco-naturism? I kept digging and learned that you could volunteer to help at an eco- naturist campsite in Portugal, and that there is an eco-friendly naturist campsite in Montenegro, called Camp Monte, begun by a British couple, Steve and Denise, who (like SL avatar and RL vegetable farmer Tisha) dropped out of their rat-race some years ago to pursue their dream.

Indeed, the owners say on the website that ‘We were not eco warriors when we embarked on establishing Camp Full Monte. We were driven by pragmatism, economics and availability of products. We had no mains power, water or sewage systems, we had to find alternative solutions. To our surprise and delight taking an environmentally sympathetic route held the answer.’

The site, incidentally, is only 30 minutes drive from Dubrovnik, an airport served from the UK much better than the usual Croatian naturist havens.

We are often told that naturism is an ageing lifestyle (correct!) but evidence of the eco-naturist seems to me to be a way wherein naturist could be made current, relevant and (dare i say it?) ‘sexier’ to a younger generation (in the context of ‘sexy’ being ‘fashionable’).

This is a theme I may try to develop over the next few weeks, to see just where RL naturism could go in order to thrive, and to see if ideas pertaining to this are already germinating in the minds of SL users. It’s hardly a ‘representative poll’, but on the evidence I’m seeing, the typical Second Life user is increasingly one who has real life concerns for the environment and is willing to share these when prompted.

Are you an SL user for whom ecological concerns form part of your value system? I would be delighted to learn if SL users do have broad values that fir in with environmentalism and the new ‘counter culture’, of which RL naturism may be considered to be part.

 

Ella

 

 

 

 

 

Shake the roots of the morality police

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Carpe diem, seize the day.

Two weeks ago I reported my 2015 naturist season had begun, and today it looks to be as far away as ever, as high winds and rain buffet us over the next couple of days. Certainly, it’s rattling off the window right in front of me as I type, the heating is on and I’m wrapped inside my fluffiest winter pyjamas and dressing gown while I alternate between ‘day job’ work and SLN.

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This got me thinking about how important it is to seize the moments when naturism, along with anything else for that matter, present themselves.

So if you’re one of those people who hasn’t tried out naturism yet, 2015 is your time. You have nothing to lose but learned conditions like body shame, built into our society and with its roots digging deeper into the earth. Time to shake those roots, loosen them, and set yourself and the rest of us free.

Carpe Diem!

 

Ella

Second Life as a predictor of social change?

Well maybe it is just the time of year
Or maybe it’s the time of man

We’ve got to get ourselves, Back to the garden

It’s unlikely that Second Life could ever be a predictor of real life social change, lacking disease, war, death, famine, debt and politics, but nonetheless is it possible to suggest that some elements of the game reflect the feelings of players as individuals before those feelings reaching critical mass and become an in-game trend?

We all have things that we wish would happen. ‘I wish there was a music and fashion style for us‘, teenagers in America might have said some time in the early 1950s, from neat detached houses in Los Angeles suburbs, to farms in the mid-west, to tenement blocks in New York. A demographic is there, and half a decade later, a whole youth movement, rock & roll, is sweeping the world. Indeed, ‘teen age’ was probably defined by that generation as never before, and continues as a demographic today (and forever).

The post-war years have also seen us try to create new demographics, some more successful than others. In the UK we have a General Election coming up in early May, and I just know that the political parties will be considering which demographic might swing the election result in their direction, identifying ‘Middle England Stay at Home Mothers’ as the demographic to target for electoral success, perhaps. These will then be known in the media as ‘the Mesh-ies’. I should add that these aren’t a demographic (yet) and yes, I did make the demographic up with a bit of an SL slant.

Unless there’s a DJ whose work I particularly admire, I generally play SL with the sound off. On that subject, a tip of the hat to DJ Cat and to Sunshine, two excellent DJs working in SL with an eclectic taste in music and who never fail to bring something new to this household’s ears…we’ve been introduced to more new (to us) music via SL than we would through the narrow, homogenised, playlisted music on BBC radio, for example. The other evening, however, we had Joni Mitchell playing in the background while sitting in Mr. Keng’s den, and I was also logged into SL, tramping around the ‘Burn’ sim that has been going on over the weekend, in advance of its opening.

It occurred to me that the place was filled with not only imaginative work, but clicking on profiles revealed it to be full of imaginative individuals whose profiles were clearly, obviously, extensions of their real life personas, as I think all of us extend our RL selves, rather than totally re-invent. Yes, I know some will probably say that their SL avatar is a total contrast to their RL selves, but I find that people generally stick with what they know, their true selves, and simply magnify it a little (or a lot).

During the past week we’ve had a little bit of debate, in the context of the blog, about reporting on an orgy, something that didn’t meet another website’s standards of what constituted genuine naturism. Which is a reasonable enough view: I share it. In turn, this got me thinking about the whole ‘shaving’ (of the genital area) trend within naturism, and which has been the trend within naturism for the best part of a decade. Where did that trend originate? That’s right, from pornography. The porn industry’s need for ‘greater detail’ drove the shaving trend, as did the fashion industry’s willingness to produce smaller and skimpier swimwear. And there we had naturism taking its cue from porn and fashion. How ‘genuine’ is that? If we’re going to pride ourselves on being free-thinking individuals, how free thinking is that? As free thinkers surely we should have been rejecting the ‘shaving’ trend cues from fashion and (particularly) porn?

I don’t want to re-visit the little spat that occurred, but sometimes there’s a bit of synchronicity that drives the blog posts. Joni Mitchell…blog drama….Icelandic anti-bulling social media campaigns…a counter culture evidenced at ‘Burn’…they all begin to draw themselves together.

 

burning man

 Pookes and my plans to run a bike ride at an SL even may have been dashed, but these ladies at the RL Burning man have their bike ride sorted.

We, naturists, are part of the counter culture now. We are a lifestyle that seeks to step away from a buttoned up (in more ways than one) society. We have a need to free ourselves, and if we adopt a holistic naturist approach to life, we’re rejecting the values of big business. Growing our own produce? Many of us do it, with food freed from fertilisers and provided with greater taste, rather than force grown, frozen, vacuum packed and flown(!) half way across a continent. ‘We’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden (of Eden)’, as Joni Mitchell sang 45 years ago.

The hopes and values of the Woodstock generation were dashed, but I personally see elements of life where there are definite signs of of the values of big business being rejected, the values of politicians being rejected, and the emergence of modern ‘hippy’ values. How prevalent are ‘hipsters’ where you live? Yep, they’re here too. While you don’t immediately think of them as being ‘hippies’, they do seem to me to be part of that trend towards rejection of current business and social values. This, I think, is one of the aspects of the internet still being birthed: the ability to form ‘tribes’ and reach critical mass much more speedily.

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We must learn to think ‘natural’, in terms of harnessing the earth’s natural resources.

An Icelandic girl being bullied online reaches parts of the world, with global media exposure, in a way unimagined by the Woodstock generation. Critical mass reached, in a sense, with hours and certainly days of the original bullying.

In another of those strange synchronistic turns the blog experiences regularly, we also did a profile on Tisha, who rejected the world’s values to re-imagine her life in a small farm in France. While Tisha’s personal circumstances may have allowed her to do this, the point is that she did this, a modern ‘dropping out’. Many people I know in RL share this dream in their 50s, of terminating that dreary job and living what time they’ve left on the planet within their own personal vision of what life should be, rather than how life is. As part of that tribal counterculture, I know I shall run naked down a beach later this year in the pearly pink light of dawn and swim, float on my back, stare up at the fading stars and truly feel alive. I’m finding, too, that I meet a lot of first-time, RL naturists who are in their 50s (again, like Tisha) who come to learn that it does create this wonderful feeling of being alive and connecting with what’s important: our environment, our physical and mental well-being, our capacity to break out of this false set of business-driven values we’re brainwashed to accept as the norm.

Before moving on, let me just add that when I started in SL, the ‘shaved’ avatar was the norm. Keeping the avatar ‘natural’ an absolute rarity. Now, there has been a movement in the pendulum in the other direction, and the ‘natural’ avatar is increasingly in evidence. From my naturist experiences in RL I know the pendulum is swinging (slowly) that way too. I think it’s safe to assume that only a percentage of SL avatars are RL naturists, so what’s driving this subtle change in avatar appearance? Yes, I think it’s the values of individuals, the mind-set of individuals, rejecting a specific look in favour of something else. If replicated in the real world, I suspect this is going to reach a point where, once again, pubic hair is fashionable.

But this post is less about SL naturism as another thing I’ve noticed within the game, and wonder if it’s a form of cultural thermometer. The ‘hippies’.

Within RL there’s great evidence of ‘hippies’ becoming a thing, with the ‘hipsters’ as a sub-set. Examine any WNBR ride, for example, and you will see that it’s eco-warriors who form a part of every ride. Burning Man and the Rainbow Gatherings evidence the same. People wanting to have fun, but also wishing to make a statement.

NO to dependency on oil. YES to a more equable society. YES to sharing the fruits of the earth, throughout the earth. NO to agro-chemical businesses.

These messages and suitably adorned avatars are increasingly apparent in SL. Not just because there’s a Burning Man type festival on the grid this weekend, but to my eyes a growing ‘tribe’ within the game. So at what point will they reach some sort of critical mass and overspill their values into more mainstream, shopping mall elements of the game? At what point will ‘hippy style’ become more evident amongst SL’s fashion bloggers? At what point might the designers and builders of SL begin to accessorise this hippy tribe (as they’ve already done with hipsters)?

With the likes of the ‘Burn’ festival over the weekend, and with an increasing number of avatars adopting a ‘new age’/hippy/hipster look, it seems, as evidenced from my eyes, that we sometimes use our avatars to represent our real life values, and that this type of avatar now has centre stage in the vast and rich library of avatars and human types found playing SL. Where previously Nekos and furries were sizeable groups, then supplanted by the huge number playing Gorean role-play sims, I do detect a sense of the fashionable avatars being the hippies and hipsters, and that unlike previously these represent a real life group discussing real life issues that concern them, and are reflected in avatar type.

Is it just another SL fashion style, as temporary as previous groupings, or will this time the people behind those avatars, pursuing their RL values and treating SL accordingly, about to create a shift in how the real world an SL interact?

Should the hipsters and hippies of SL reach critical mass, will they begin to influence the minds of other players around them in a way no other SL fashion tribe has achieved before?

 

Ella